RILEY SPENCER / THE EAGLE
It was a rough weekend for the Eagles, as two hard-fought men’s soccer games both ended in losses with the conference schedule getting underway next week.
“It’s frustrating to play two home games and not find the back of the net, but in stretches we played some of our best soccer of the season,” Head Coach Todd West said.
Cal State blanks Eagles
The Eagles (1-6-1) kicked off the weekend Sept. 16 by falling 3-0 to the California State University Fullerton Titans. The Titans came into the game with considerable momentum after having tied the defending NCAA Champion University of Akron Zips earlier in the season and starting the season on a six-game unbeaten streak.
Having struggled with two-game weekends, the Eagles planned to sit back and conserve their legs as much as possible for Sunday’s University of Central Florida game, according to West. But Fullerton attacked strongly throughout the first half, with Kevin Venegas, Cal State’s leading scorer, opening the scoring for the Titans with his fourth goal of the year.
Less than 10 minutes later, Eric Escobedo took a pass outside of the box and sent in a high arcing shot over Eagle goalkeeper Matt Makowski for a 2-0 Titans lead. With the first half winding down, Jesse Escalante headed in a shot from 10 yards out for a 3-0 Cal State advantage.
What had looked to be a promising afternoon never materialized as the first half ended with AU in a three-goal hole. The second half trudged on uneventfully, as AU continued to be unable to convert its chances, and the game ended in a 3-0 loss.
“Some areas need improvement, but we still have the opportunity to be a good team,” West said. He listed the inability to finish and convert chances as the main problem in the loss.
Tough weekend continues against UCF
The Eagles hosted the No. 10 Central Florida Knights Sept. 18, looking to shake off their Sept. 16 loss. The UCF attack was held scoreless by a battling AU back line for the first 20 minutes, before things began to go downhill.
Nik Robson scored on a free kick 25 minutes in that bounced past Makowski for the game’s opening goal. Tension began to rise on the field following multiple disputed tackles, and the first half ended with the Knights leading 1-0.
Strong attacking and staunch defense by both squads characterized the second half, with Makowski keeping the Eagles in the game. Halftime did nothing to calm either team down, as three yellow cards were handed out in a five minute span midway through the second half.
With 18 minutes left in the game, Cameron Cooksey scored UCF’s second goal on a long throw-in from the sideline, shifting the momentum firmly to UCF.
“We’re definitely the best 1-6 team in the country,” West said.
AU will return to the field Saturday, Sept. 24 for its Patriot League opener with Colgate University.